Burma has Nuclear Ambitions, Says US Think Tank
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Burma has Nuclear Ambitions, Says US Think Tank

By LALIT K JHA / WASHINGTON Friday, January 29, 2010


The Burmese regime has nuclear ambitions, according to a leading US “think tank,” which supports its claim with photographs of what it says is construction work on a possible nuclear reactor site near Mandalay.

The junta is cooperating with North Korea on possible procurement of nuclear technology and appears to be misleading overseas suppliers in its efforts to obtain it, say two authors of the report, David Albright and Paul Brannan, well-known experts on the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The Burmese junta's No 3, Gen Thura Shwe Mann. exchanges a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chief of Staff of the Korean Peoples' Army, Gen Kim Gyok-sik, in Pyongyang in 2008

Their report was published by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

Assistant US Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said that although he hadn't read the report, “we do have concerns about certain activity and the potential, you know—that risk to the global nonproliferation agenda.”

The report, titled “Burma: A nuclear wannabe; suspicious links to North Korea; high-tech procurements and enigmatic facilities,” says: “Certain equipment, which could be used in a nuclear or missile program, went to isolated Burmese manufacturing compounds of unknown purpose.

“Although evidence does not exist to make a compelling case that Burma is building secret nuclear reactors or fuel cycle facilities, as has been reported, the information does warrant governments and companies taking extreme caution in any dealings with Burma. 

“The military regime’s suspicious links to North Korea, and apparent willingness to illegally procure high technology goods, make a priority convincing the military government to accept greater transparency.”

The report says that evidence shows “Burma and North Korea have discussed nuclear cooperation, but is not sufficient to establish that North Korea is building nuclear facilities for Burma’s military junta, despite recent reports to the contrary,” it says. Nonetheless, the possibility of significant North Korean nuclear assistance to this enigmatic, military regime, could not be ignored.

The report says that because Burma is buying a wide variety of suspicious dual-use goods internationally, governments and companies need to be more vigilant in examining Burma’s inquiries or requests for equipment, whether via Burmese governmental entities, Burmese trading companies, or other foreign trading companies. 

Companies should treat inquiries from Burma no differently than those from Iran, Pakistan or Syria, it says.

Noting that Burma is seeking abroad a large quantity of top-grade, highly sophisticated goods with potential missile and nuclear uses, the report adds that no pattern has yet emerged in these procurements that lead to a specific missile or nuclear end use. Nonetheless, the procurements are often suspicious or highly enigmatic, according to one senior European intelligence official.

The report suggests the Burmese military regime might use North Korean trading entities to acquire overseas sensitive nuclear and nuclear dual use goods. 

“Its military cooperation with North Korea has increased over the last several years, fueling concerns about nuclear cooperation. North Korea could also supplement Burma’s own foreign procurement networks, and it could sell nuclear goods made in North Korea,” it says.

Evidence of North Korean-Burmese cooperation, says the report, includes the reported presence in Burma of officials from Namchongang Trading (NCG), a North Korean trading company that is sanctioned by the UN Security Council. 

“The nature of the Burmese/NCG cooperation remains largely unknown, but NCG has reportedly sold equipment to Burma or provided some type of technical assistance,” the report says—adding, however, that there is no concrete evidence that North Korea is supplying Burma a reactor. Any involvement by NCG in Burma is bound to increase suspicions about such a sale, the report adds.  

“There remain sound reasons to suspect that the military regime in Burma might be pursuing a long-term strategy to make nuclear weapons. Despite the public reports to the contrary, the military junta does not appear to be close to establishing a significant nuclear capability.

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Moe Aung Wrote:
Myanmar Patriot 4 UMPF,

"And all rebellion must stop, or there can be no real democracy as civilian government would be forced to hand power back to the military.

More like a simpleton's logic. Just order them to stop rebelling or else? Fat chance.

"the skeleton in the cupboard...vicker's (sic) tea party"?

Sure you know the correct usage or how to spell? I notice you've made it a habit of sneering at other people's command of the English language. Put that dunce's hat on and go stand in the corner.

This article characterizes the epitome of bad journalism. The author does not even seem to have read the whole report. Indeed, the report refuted the previous allegation of nuclear sites, including uranium mill and mines. The report questions two buildings which may be related to a nuclear or missile construction. But the report is far from the conclusion that it has identified a nuclear site. Next time, The Irrawaddy should pay their contributor based on the quality and accuracy of articles, not simply by the article per se.

Peter Wrote:
Any country that thinks it's ok to deny the right elected government and to force its rule with a military junta is completly insane. The stupidity of the junta and their actions would lead me to consider that they are infact stupid enought to want to have nukes. Because they are so stupid the junta need to be removed from power immediatly and told to put away their stupid toys of untold destructive force.

There are photos of tunnels being built. What for and who with. Why should a building project be secret if there are no secrets to emerge.

When will Burma wake up to the injustice that seems to continue with the junta trying to use it's force and imprison those who oppose it.

There needs to be a freely democratically elected government in Burma and the military junta have no right to force their rule. All political prisioners must be set free immediatly and the press must be allowed to speak freely. We all want to see a beautiful free Burma and the World is watching!

Ngal Hriang Wrote:
Let them build nuclear weapon to wipe out the military which oppresses the public for too long. We want to see Than Shwe and his people go to Hell.

Myanmar Patriot 4 UMPF Wrote:
George Than Setkyar Heine` Wrote:"Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of despots like Than Shwe, Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly command close scrutiny, decisive and preventive action on the part of the US-led international community for God's sake."

COMMENT: George Than Setkyar Heine has swallowed Anglo-American media propaganda hook, line and sinker. He needs to get rid of his slave mentality and replace it with 'world history view' and an understanding of 'Political Realism', a paradigm of International Relations/Politics.

Shwebomin II must be so disappointed by these unbalanced views. If we have unity, patriotism and national reconciliation - without alien interference we would not need any nuclear power. First, everyone must fight off Panglng, the time bmb that explosed in Burma's face. And all rebellion must stop, or there can be no real democracy as civilian government would be forced to hand power back to the military.

Myanmar Patriot 4 UMPF Wrote:
James O'Brien, You admitted you don't care if Burma disintegrates; that is your attitude. Why should we care about what you say since you are the skeleton in the cupboard, enemy of Burma. If only you promote unity amongst Burmese/Myanmar people, forgiveness and reconciliation, we would not need any defence weapon. Whilst Iraq enquiry resoundingly condemns the war, we don't see why you want to interfer in our affairs.

In any case, 60's were 60's when military usurper ShuMaung (NeWin nom de guerre) was welcomed in England and allowed to have a house in Wimbledon.

"I pray for the people of Burma if a nuclear accident like Chernobyl takes place." You said. WE CAN FORESEE THE PROBLEMS.Still compared to consequences of disintegration, this type of accident is vicker's tea party.It is Anglo-American threat that is pushing the junta in that direction. Would you please leave us alone and not carry on with divide-and-rule. Instead try to help Sinn Fein -DUP dialogue for devolution.


Aung Aung Wrote:
Reports indicated that 90% of Burma’s arm procurements are from China. 120 out of 132 fighter planes are China made. Since 1989 it provided SPDC $1.2 Billion worth of various weapons. After 1990 Burma bought again 200 different types of tanks and 250 units of armored cars. In addition, unspecified no. of rockets, howitzer, artillery, SAM, coastal artillery and high speed combat ship were delivered also by China.

The figures and items may not be fully identical what China has supplied so far. But it strongly explained the close connection between the junta and authoritarian China.

DPRK and China are the “rotten fish on the same boat”, both sharing benefits from and backing of the dirty business. Show up only by DPRK in this case is “strategic approach” or “saving-face” for China.

Now, all talking about governments and companies need to be more vigilant outside suppliers. Yes, we should also talk about how to monitor the supply “by hand” from the big brother, China.

James O'Brien Wrote:
Wanna bet? It's not for peaceful use.

The Burmese junta does not care about the health of its own people.

Way back in 60s, a Burmese friend of mine, a scientist himself at UBARI (Union of Burma Research Institute) was given an overdose of radioactive water in the Rangoon General Hospital. The cup for my thin friend was mistaken on the same tray for identical cup for another patient who was over 170 lbs. The nurse told him to just drink it, even though he asked.

Subsequently, my friend suffered and the Geiger Counter buzzed when he entered his lab.

The generals all go to Singapore, China? or Dubai themselves for medical treatment.

It's to show "Myanmar" is a world power and can thumb its nose at the USA.

I pray for the people of Burma if a nuclear accident like Chernobyl takes place.

George Than Setkyar Heine` Wrote:
No doubt about it. Than Shwe as a lackey of Chinese communists has joined the club.

North Korea is China's puppet mongrel ready to maul on command by its Chinese masters next door. Hence, South Korea, Japan and others were shivering when the North Korean midget played with his missiles lately.

Until today, US led international community is still clueless in dealing with the problem (nuclear proliferation) and sale of hardware to renegade regimes like in Burma and elsewhere.

Than Shwe flirting with the Chinese puppet in Pyongyang certainly threatens the freedom and security of the region, if not the world at large, I say.

Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of despots like Than Shwe, Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly command close scrutiny, decisive and preventive action on the part of the US-led international community for God's sake.

Failing to address the 'problem' today would surely culminate in the Armageddon visiting mankind on this earth at a much earlier date.

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